Find posts by keyword
Find posts by date


A Cheesy Beginning to Ski Season

by Matt Zaffino

Bio | Email | Follow: @Zaffino

Posted on December 13, 2007 at 11:12 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:47 PM

My ski season got off to a well-fed and scenic start last weekend at the Five-Mile Fire Lookout Tower in the Mt Hood National Forest.


I spent an hour or so out in the crisp cold night making pictures of the lookout tower. This 30 second exposure is one of my favorites. I've skied into fire lookout towers more times than I can remember, but I'm always struck by the stark and stately beauty of these structures against the backdrop of winter. The horizontal line of light on the right is an airplane on final approach to PDX. The orange glow on the left is the lights of Portland. You can see another light-line, angling off from the vertical at the top of the shot. This is either a high-flying airplane or a satellite, but it's cool because I didn't notice it until I was home looking at my pictures.
The Five-Mile Lookout sits on a 30-foot tower and has views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt Rainier and of course a sweeping view to the east.


Xena mostly ran and I skied in to the tower in the awesome late afternoon light to meet our good friends Terry and Bill. My pack in the background is a lot heavier than Xena's!


Xena carries her food and ski-jore (future blog subject) gear, along with a couple adult beverages in her dogpack. Once it's on her she doesn't even notice it. Hey the girl's gotta carry her own weight! Not literally of course, she only has a few pounds in there.


We got to the tower in time to catch some nice Mt Adams alpenglow. That's Mt Rainier on the left.


Terry and Bill are great back-country cooks. But this is not really that. The lookout has a propane oven and stove, so it's not exactly primitive. And since the early season snowpack is shallow, the ski in was short. So we brought A LOT of supplies!


How about a fondue and fresh crab feast?


I brought the fondue cheese and bread, Terry and Bill hauled in the fresh crab. Yummy!


After scarfing scraps and her dog food, Xena thinks she just might settle in on the bed for a nap.


But she slept on the floor near me. The wood-burning stove was doing a great job of heating up the place, so she occasionally crashed by the door for some heat relief.


In the morning she did a good job of scouring the left-over congealed fondue cheese out of my pot.


And she was all over it when Bill dropped an egg on the cabin floor.


The ski out was a little short for Xena, she would have preferred to keep going!
If you're interested in learning more about Forest Service lookouts available for public use, you can make reservations and find out more at

Matt Zaffino
KGW Chief Meteorologist